There have been plenty of morose headlines about local journalism during the past few years, so we’re happy to bring you some good news about local news.
The Traverse City Record-Eagle has joined 164 other newsrooms nationwide in partnership with the nonprofit Report for America in its effort to put more journalists on the ground, covering the issues that matter to you.
On Monday, Report for America announced plans to place 250 journalists in partner news organizations spread across 46 states. That footprint is a significant expansion from the current class of 50 news organization partners in 28 states and Puerto Rico.
We’re ecstatic that our newsroom will join the effort in 2020.
At this point — after the number of journalists working in the U.S. dropped by more than 25 percent in a decade — they are needed everywhere.
Don’t get us wrong, the Record-Eagle already stands out as a bit of an anomaly in the local newspaper world. We employ more journalists than any other news organization in northern Michigan. Our 18 reporters, photographers and editors work everyday to be where you need us, covering topics relevant to your life, telling stories that matter to our communities.
We are thankful — especially to all of you who support local journalism — that we haven’t endured the kind of cuts many of our friends and colleagues have faced.
But deep cuts elsewhere means there are fewer reporters on the ground asking questions and reporting facts.
News deserts are growing.
As is the case in every state, today, there are fewer reporters working in Michigan than there were a year ago, or the year before that. We’ve lost scores during the past 20 years.
The bottom line is, there are fewer professional question-askers, storytellers and photographers documenting the legislature, city halls, school boards, arts organizations, business developments and high school sports.
That’s why we decided to pursue a partnership with Report for America, a nonprofit pursuing the mission of putting more journalists on the ground nationwide.
Here’s how it works: Report for America (with funding help from a long list of charitable organizations including the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) covers half the cost of a journalist’s salary. They help recruit strong candidates who want to spend a year-long hitch working for the benefit of our community.
We — community supporters and the Record-Eagle — cover the other half of that reporter’s salary.
That new reporter we host will be an enterprise data journalist who will pursue stories that impact the rural reaches of northern Michigan, places where few news organizations spend much time save for the occasional viral video or clickbait story.
The prospect of growing our newsroom’s footprint as others contract is exciting, but we will need your support along the way. Increasingly, we depend upon our subscribers to help fund good journalism in the Grand Traverse region.
This project will be no different.
We will ask for further community support of our efforts — good journalism is not easy or cheap.
For all your support — support for which we are thankful everyday — we will keep asking questions, covering stories and bringing you the news your need, want and deserve.
After all, you are why we come to work each morning.